Productization and waterfalls

OK, I admit it,  I’ve been playing hooky, travelling around Scandinavia on holiday, trying very hard not to think about design for manufacturability or Gauge R&R.  But I must admit I did learn a few life lessons from my travels that are uncannily relevant to my day job doing productization.

  1. Standardization is good.  Lack of standardization is bad. I had a wallet full of five different currencies and a bag full of plug adapters.  Designing in standard components with lots of sources is good.  Designing in a cool custom component that only one guy on the planet can make is bad.
  2. Single points of failure is dangerous.  Driving around Iceland across bridge after bridge on the only road on the southern side of the island, it occurred to me that if any one of those bridges went out, we would be toast, stranded in a lava field  Same applies for chassis design–if you only have one fan and it fails, your super-duper telecommunications device becomes a toaster.
  3. The best views are not from the overlooks, but from down low and up close. Mighty Gullfoss, Europe’s largest waterfall, has two viewing areas, one from an overlook and one from right down in the spray.  The lower path, though messier, provided by far the better view.  Same goes for engineering–PowerPoint and Exec Summaries are wonderful, but if you really want to solve a problem you need to dig into the data.
  4. Local is better. Don’t order Jack Daniels in Stockholm, order Absolute.  Try the Arctic char in Reykjavik or the cloudberries in Helsinki, instead of a Big Mac.  Cheaper and better.  Same goes for supply chain–if you’re doing assembly in Mexico, avoid China-made parts, but if you’re doing assembly in Shenzen, avoid molding plastic in Guadalajara.
  5. Have a backup plan. If its pouring rain, maybe that outdoor museum is not the best choice for the day.  If a flight gets cancelled, know  what your options are.  If a product fails DVT, don’t be surprised, have a plan in place.  Better yet, pre-test the ___ out of it.
And if there are any folks in Iceland who need help in productizing your widgets, give me a call.  I’ll be on the next plane.

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